Hard times for the upstream usually allow the midstream to align and adjust. It sounds cold-blooded, but for straitened producers caught with too much debt, a good offer for gathering and processing could be a life­line. Indeed some private-equity (PE) firms with dedicated midstream funds say they are ready to make deals. Others are waiting for things to settle a bit or at least for sellers and buyers’ ideas of value to come into closer alignment.

One complication from the last cycle does not seem likely to be repeated this time. In the 2014 to 2015 downturn, producer bankruptcies precip­itated some nasty litigation about whether mid­stream contracts could be unilaterally altered by courts or creditors. In recent years contract terms have been clarified.

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